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Discectomy Surgery Risks

As is the case with any kind of surgery, several complications and risks are associated with discectomy surgery as well, these include:

Bleeding is one of the commonest complications; but is can be easily handled.

Bladder or bowel incontinence

Infection may require further surgery and longer hospitalization.

Dural tear and cerebrospinal fluid leak is known to occur in about 2% cases. Nevertheless, it does not alter the outcome of the surgery, however, after the operation, you may be asked to lay recumbent for 2 days to let the leak close up.

Nerve root damage can occur in some patients as well; this results in pain and weakness that does not go away.

Another frequent risk that is associated with discectomy is that another portion of disc may herniate and trigger similar symptoms later on. Recurrent disc herniation is relatively common and is seen in around 10% - 15% cases.

Nearly all patients experience relief of much, if not all, of the symptoms after the operation. On the other hand, the success of the surgery is about 85% - 90%, meaning that about 10% of the patients who undertake the surgery may still have continual symptoms. Those who continue to have symptoms for prolonged intervals of time, or have grave neurologic deficits are at a greater risk of partial recovery. Approximately five to ten percent patients develop recurrent disc herniation. A recurring disc herniation could arise immediately after the operation or after several years; however they are common during the first 3 months after the discectomy. In case this happens, a correction microdiscectomy needs to e carried out. Conversely, after a repetition, one is at greater risk of further recurrences.

A grave risk factor is that the back pain may not get better at all, or may come back later.

Nonetheless, the above risks and complications are rather rare and can be effectively handled.